FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE REHEARING MOTION AND, IF
from the Circuit Court for Pinellas County; Cynthia Newton,
J. Melvin and Keathel Chauncey of Fresh Legal Perspective,
PL, Tampa, for Appellant.
Daigneault and Randol D. Mora of Trask Daigneault, LLP,
Clearwater, for Appellee City of Dunedin.
Bennett C. Lofaro of Boyd Richards Parker & Colonnelli,
P.L., Tampa, for Appellee Matthew Campbell.
Treasure, Inc. sued the City of Dunedin and its employee,
Matthew Campbell, over their handling of Pirate's
Treasure's request for City approval to redevelop real
property. While the case was pending, Pirate's Treasure
transferred the property to Pirate's Cove Holdings, LLC.
The City filed a motion for summary judgment in which Mr.
Campbell joined, arguing that upon the transfer to
Pirate's Cove, Pirate's Treasure lost any interest in
the property and, as a consequence, lost standing to maintain
the suit. The trial court granted the motion and rendered a
final judgment accordingly. Because there are genuine issues
of material fact about whether Pirate's Treasure has an
interest in the outcome of the controversy sufficient to
support its continued standing, we reverse and remand for
course of dealings between Pirate's Treasure and the City
that led to this dispute and the zoning and land use
regulations applicable to those dealings, as presented by the
pleadings in the circuit court, are a pretty complex affair.
In layman's terms, here is what the reader needs to know.
Pirate's Treasure used to own upland and submerged
property in the City upon which it operated a marina. In
2006, it began having discussions with the City about the
zoning and land use approvals it would need to expand the
marina and to build a restaurant on the upland property. On
the City's end, Mr. Campbell played a key role in those
Pirate's Treasure's telling, the City's approval
of the proposed redevelopment looked like a sure thing. Mr.
Campbell and other City employees told it that the marina
expansion and the restaurant construction would both be
approved. Buoyed by those assurances, Pirate's Treasure
hired an engineering firm to prepare a site plan for the
City's approval. Throughout 2008 and early 2009, the
approval process moved smoothly, and-again, we stress, in
Pirate's Treasure's telling-the City assured it that
the redevelopment was approved subject to a couple of minor
issues. Pirate's Treasure demolished an existing
structure on the property to prepare for the redevelopment
that it believed was a lock in terms of City approval.
hit a snag in mid-2009, however, precipitated in part by
objections raised by an owner of property next to
Pirate's Treasure's. Although the City officially
approved the marina expansion in 2010, it told Pirate's
Treasure in 2011 that it viewed the application for approval
of the restaurant construction as having been terminated and
that it would have to submit a new application for that part
of the proposed redevelopment. Pirate's Treasure
considered this a big problem because, among other reasons,
the City also took the position that revisions to the
City's zoning and land use regulations that went into
effect while the original application was pending would be
deemed to apply to any new application.
September 2011, Pirate's Treasure filed a complaint
against the City in the circuit court seeking a declaratory
judgment that its application for approval of the restaurant
construction was never lawfully terminated and that the
zoning and land use regulations in effect at the time its
original application was filed governed the approval process.
It also sought a writ of mandamus compelling the City to
complete its review of the application for approval for the
restaurant construction within a reasonable time. The case
was scheduled for a trial in April 2013 but was taken off
calendar with the agreement of the parties. Things remained
dormant for quite some time after that.
December 3, 2014, Pirate's Treasure executed a warranty
deed conveying the property at issue to Pirate's Cove, a
limited liability company that appears to be related in some
way to Pirate's Treasure. Two weeks later, on December
17, 2014, Pirate's Treasure filed an amended complaint in
which it continued to allege that it was the owner of the
property. The amended complaint repleaded the claims for
declaratory relief and a writ of mandamus asserted in the
original and also included new claims for negligent
misrepresentation and fraud against both the City and Mr.
Campbell, which alleged that Pirate's Treasure suffered
damages by taking actions such as the commencement of
construction in reliance on the City's and Mr.
Campbell's alleged representations about the approval of
tort claims sparked litigation between Pirate's Treasure
and the City over sovereign immunity. The circuit court
dismissed the fraud claim against the City on that basis but
declined to dismiss the negligent misrepresentation claim. On
July 11, 2017, Pirate's Treasure filed a second amended
complaint that, in accord with the trial court's
dismissal order, deleted the fraud claim against the City but
that was identical to its predecessor in all other important
respects-including the allegation that Pirate's Treasure
owned the property at issue. The City responded with a motion
for summary judgment arguing that Pirate's Treasure ...